Friday, March 15, 2013

Be the Change - Leadership Conference Dallas

By Alex Leverant, Young Adult Division Associate

Leadership Conference Dallas 2013 has ended and the seven members San Diego delegation have returned with some of the latest ideas from Jewish Federations of North America on how to strengthen the San Diego Federation. The overall theme of LCD 2013 was ‘Be The Change.’ Roughly 200 Jewish Federation staff and lay leaders from around the country were on hand to take in this message. Having listened to many strong speakers throughout the three day conference as well as work in some even stronger breakout sessions, these past three days have been eye opening for me as I’m being exposed to more of what other federations around the country and in Canada are doing to better their own community.

Speakers included Jerry Silverman, President & CEO of JFNA and Michael Siegal, Chair of the JFNA Board of Trustees who spoke about Federation as a whole currently and where they hope to see it go in the next five to ten years. Leading up to Silverman and Siegal, speakers representing Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), Israel Action Network (IAN), Jewish Agency for Israel, Jewish Family Services (JFS), and Emergency Disaster Relief spoke about their affiliated organizations that are associated with the Federation and how they change the community. Just by these organizations alone, this was a very strong representation of what to expect from Jewish Federation of North America going forward!

The bulk of the conference was broken down in to 5 Herzl breakout sessions. Inspired Leadership: Communication with Presence, Multi-Generational Philanthropy, Impactful Social Media and Fundraising in the Digital Space, Lay/Pro Relations, and Advocacy in a Box were all topics for these breakout sessions which led to great discussions about being a better leader through philanthropy, through relations with lay leaders and professionals, through being an advocate for yourself, your community, your state and your country, and re-formatting your approach for fundraising in the digital age. 

The meaningful conference didn’t just end there. Opening the conference was a moving tale about a newlywed couple who was in the third trimester of the birth of their first child when the child came a month early. Complications arose and it was determined that a bone marrow was needed for the survival of their precious daughter. By starting a message on their Facebook page to expanding to a blog, they gained national recognition for their hope for a match for their daughter. They would post pictures daily and an update on their daughter and would be receiving close to a thousand comments a day and requests of how they can help out a complete stranger. It’s this sense of nationwide community that the Jewish Federation strives for and hopes to obtain through each local chapter of the Young Adult Divisions.  

With all great conferences, there is time for decompressing. The big event during the three days was an excursion to Gilley’s, a landmarked country-western bar who opened up their doors just for us on Sunday night. Filled with local cuisine, a live band, and a mechanical bull, Gilley’s didn’t disappoint. Monday nights’ entertainment was centered on a dinner with your home city and the option to join other delegations from other cities.

Representing the Jewish Federation of San Diego included the YAD Program Director, Carly Ezell and the newest YAD Associate, Alex Leverant. Also in attendance was Dan Weiss, the National Young Leadership (NYL) Conference Chair, Jack Maizel National Young Leadership Cabinet Member as well as YAD Committee members Stephanie Sandler, Leora Waiche, and JFS Professional Ashley Harrington.
Surrounded by Young Jewish Professionals and Lay Leaders from around the country from Los Angeles to Broward County, Florida, reaching as far north as Buffalo, New York and Edmonton, Canada, these colleagues came with their own successes and struggles, and used each other as sounding boards to help correct their struggles and solidify their successes.

Next up on the National docket is Tribefest 2014! Watch out New Orleans, we’re comin’ for ya! March 16-18, 2014!